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How to negotiate the best deal on a new build house or flat - 23 tips

How to negotiate the best deal on a new build house or flat - 23 tips

Are you in the market to purchase one of the 300,000 new homes the government has recently pledged to build each year in the UK? Get the best price possible and potentially save yourself £000’s by reading our guide on how to negotiate the very best deal on a new build house or flat…

1) First rule - always try to negotiate

Most developers will expect buyers to haggle to a greater or lesser extent, but there are a minority who simply pay the asking price without question.

It’s true that negotiation won’t always be possible, and relies on a number of factors, including:

  • Area of the country
  • Location
  • Local supply and demand
  • Size and stage of the development
  • Developer’s financial position and margin expectations

You can’t control these various factors, but what you are in control of is giving yourself the best chance of success, if negotiation is feasible.

How to negotiate on a new build house

2) Be wary that the price may be inflated

There’s undoubtedly a premium to be paid with any brand new home, but it’s no surprise to hear that builders often inflate prices. Before even considering asking for a discount, you should firstly try to establish what the property is actually worth. After all, getting a 10% discount on the list price and some free carpets thrown in might feel like a win, but not if the property’s asking price was 20% more than the market rate.

Consider these tips:

  • If the development is in the latter stages, check on one of the many popular valuation sites, or indeed the land registry, to see what similar, early properties have sold for.
  • Additionally, find out the price per square foot and compare this with similar, older properties on the market (these details are readily available online, or from local estate agents).
  • Ask yourself how much you’re truly prepared to pay, all in, and ensure that you don’t exceed this.

As soon as you move in, the value of your new house or flat will depreciate. If you pay over the odds, you could be in negative equity for many years to come. Money is made on a property when it’s bought, just as much as when it’s sold, and it’s therefore vitally important to establish the true value and not be swept along by the market or other influences.

How to negotiate the best deal on a new build flat

3) Ask for a discount

Once you’ve established the approximate real value of your potential new home you’ll be clearer on how to approach one of the most straightforward and common negotiation points – the price.

Again, scope for negotiation on this point is reliant on a variety of factors, but single digit percentage discounts are quite common. Double digit percentage discounts are certainly not unheard of, and indeed prices paid by various buyers on the same development can often vary greatly. There’ll be nothing more annoying than in six months’ time your neighbour telling you over the garden fence how much less than you they paid.

Although a cash discount is highly desirable, developers can sometimes be reluctant to give these, for a number of reasons:

  • High demand can mean that they don’t need to discount.
  • Margins can be tight, due to high building costs.
  • What properties sell for is available in the public domain, and discounts can deflate the perceived value of other properties, setting an expectation of lower prices amongst future buyers.
  • Larger developers aren’t keen for margin errosion to be made public to the City and their shareholders.

To a minor degree a discount on the price could actually negatively affect you as well, when you eventually come to sell. Your buyer will know exactly how much you paid and could be more encouraged to haggle if they know that you’ve got more equity in the property.

A discount is still a highly favourable option for you but, if the developer is completely unwilling to negotiate on price, then best to try to haggle for some alternative benefits….

4) Ask for a stamp duty contribution

As an alternative to a straightforward discount on the purchase price, some developers will agree to pay some or all of your stamp duty. The advantage of the developer offering this is that it won’t be reflected in the final sale price, thus protecting the perceived value of their other properties. You still effectively get a discount, and so it’s a win-win for both parties.

Like other forms of incentive, it’s important to be aware that any developer contribution towards stamp duty could be seen as a cash incentive and therefore taken away from the amount your mortgage provider is prepared to lend you.

5) Part exchange your old home

You may be able to part exchange your existing property with the developer. This saves you the time, hassle and money involved in trying to sell separately.

Although this option offers convenience, it’s important to still try to get market value. Valuations from three separate local estate agents is a good way to establish this. The developer may actually be able to give you a better-than-market price, especially as they’d often prefer to do this rather than discounting the value of the new property.

A smaller additional benefit of part exchange is that some buyers are able to negotiate an overlap period, whereby they move possessions out of their old property and into the new one over the course of a few transitional days. Much less stressful than trying to get everything done in one day.

6) Know what you’ll be getting

Ensure you’re fully aware of the property’s specifications and what you’ll actually be getting. It’s impossible to appreciate the full value, or negotiate for extras, until you know what comes as standard, and so try to be clear on exactly what is and isn’t included as soon as possible. That said, in the early days of a newly launched development specifications might not yet have been finalised by head office, and so negotiating on these points could prove difficult.

It’s also useful to know about any associated costs, such as ground rent or service charges.

7) Ask for free fixtures, fittings and finishings

For unsold houses that are either yet to be built, or are at anything up to the ‘first fix’ stage, there’s the opportunity to negotiate on all sorts of specifications. It’s also useful to bear in mind that many items don’t come as standard and therefore might not be things that you’d budgeted for – even more incentive to get them thrown in for free.

What’s more, getting them now will also save the time and hassle of sourcing these later, plus finding the tradespeople to fit them.

Here’s a list of some of the main ‘optional extras’ that buyers are often able to secure for free from developers:

  • Wooden flooring or tiling
  • Carpets (but be wary of the quality)
  • Upgraded kitchen
  • Integrated dishwasher and / or washing machine
  • Integrated hob oven
  • Alarm system
  • Additional power or network sockets
  • Cat 5 or 6 cabling 
  • Satellite TV wiring
  • Bedroom wardrobes
  • Bathroom showers
  • Better specification light switches, plug sockets or downlighters
  • Towel rails and toilet roll holders
  • Furniture
  • Modified or extended driveways or footpaths
  • Garden fences
  • Landscaping
  • Outside garden taps
  • Lawn turf or grass

Negotiating extras is one of the most common ways to get a better deal, but it’s worth considering these points:

  • Ensure you actually want these extras – negotiating for something that you won’t practically need is futile.
  • The value / price of extras is often inflated, so you might not be getting quite the bargain you thought you were getting.
  • Be wary that developers might actually try to upsell you the above features – it’s beneficial for them to do so, not only because they make more revenue and profit from you, but a higher sale price then raises the benchmark for other customers buying into the development. 
  • Finally, again it’s very important to remember that all incentives (for example, the carpets the developer’s thrown in for free) will be listed on the disclosure form that is passed to your mortgage provider. This may then alter the valuation of the actual property, and accordingly how much you’ll be lent. 

8) Ask for support with other costs

You may be able to negotiate for other costs to be paid, including: 

  • Legal fees
  • Removal costs
  • Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) for your existing home
  • Estate agent fees (again, for your existing home)

9) Sometimes it pays just to view!

Admittedly not the biggest saving suggestion in this article, but do check the developer’s website before viewing a show home, as some offer small incentives, such as vouchers, just for booking an appointment to view. Every little helps!

Getting the best price on a new build property

10) Show early or late interest

For the best deal, it’s almost always better to negotiate in the early or late stages of a development. Which one’s best will vary on the circumstances and there are pros and cons to each. Buy early and you’re likely to be living on a building site for a while, try to buy late and you may miss out. However, there’s potentially much to gain.

Why it can be best to negotiate with developers in the early stages:

  • They are always keen to kick things off and make the first few sales.
  • It also helps their cashflow – often crucial in continuing development as planned.
  • Occupied homes create the impression that the properties are in demand, which encourages more buyers.
  • Residents breathe life into what otherwise is a soulless building site – again, this creates a good impression, which in turn helps fuel sales.

Why it can be best to negotiate with developers in the late stages:

  • They have less time to sell.
  • The site is near to completion and they want to finish and move on.
  • They save costs of keeping the show home / sales office open.
  • You could bag the show home, which usually has a more generous plot, plus the best and most comprehensive range of fixtures and fittings.

Developers will often try to restrict supply in order to maintain prices (and therefore demand). However, they can’t always successfully achieve this balancing act and if you engage with them during one of these early or late stages, they’ll be more inclined to give you the best deal possible.

11) Pick your day (or month)

Like any sales-orientated company, developers are usually more inclined to want to do deals at certain times:

  • Near their financial year end. The larger developers in particular will want to report strong financial results to shareholders and the City, upon completion of their year, and nothing helps this like a strong final push for sales. Equally, if the developer has performed poorly year-to-date then there’s extra pressure to get the final few sales in. You can check here at Companies House to find a particular developer’s year end date. However, don’t leave it too late – it’s best to start negotiations at least a couple of months before.
  • Half year and end of quarter. Much like the above scenario, although to a lesser extent, these points are also important to larger developers.
  • End of month. This is the regular milestone for any sales person and unless it’s been a great month, most will be more inclined to do a deal in the last few days.

12) Be ready to move

Like any of us, builders don’t like chains. Unpredictable timescales can play havoc with their business and so if you’re ready to move quickly you’re in a strong position.

Some tips to consider:

  • You should be ready to show proof of your mortgage in principle, or alternatively that you have the funds already, if you’re a cash buyer.
  • If you have an existing property, it should at least be ‘under offer’ and ideally you should have completion dates.

13) Support for first-time buyers

If you’re a first time buyer, you can take advantage of the Government’s ‘Help to Buy: Shared Ownership’ scheme, whereby you purchase between 25% and 75% and pay rent on the remainder. Deposits are also usually lower.

Note that developers are fully aware that first time buyers who participate in this scheme can only buy a new property and therefore sometimes feel they’re in a stronger position to resist haggling. However, stand firm – as a first time buyer you’re just as entitled to negotiate, and the developer should be reminded that there’s plenty of other new builds in the vicinity, if you can’t get the deal you want.

14) Someone else’s loss can be your gain

Be on the lookout for sales that have fallen through. Developers need to ensure sales targets and cashflow remains on track, and so will often consider selling for less.

Consider leaving your details with the sale consultant and advising that you’re interested in any properties that don’t successfully complete. You’ll be most attractive to them if you are in a position to react to any opportunity and move quickly.

Also, remember that the developer will have retained the previous buyer’s deposit, which means they’ll have already made a very slight profit, which in turn gives you more leverage on the price.

15) Flexibility on location

Homes nearer to roads, with less attractive outlooks or smaller plots are often less appealing and therefore have a higher chance of being discounted.

16) Consider an ‘old new build’

Ok, so strictly speaking it’s no longer a new build, but if you’re pondering a larger development which has already had multiple phases completed, it may be worth you considering a pre-owned property. You’ll enjoy all of the benefits of a nearly new property – plus any snagging issues have probably already been addressed - and best of all it is likely to be priced very competitively, if it’s to stand any chance of selling.

17) Seek advice and feedback

It’s highly likely that you know at least a few people – friends, family and colleagues – who have purchased a new home in the past. Ask them for their experiences and advice.

Additionally, check online for feedback on local community forums, or even try to engage in conversation with your prospective new neighbours, if the site is already part-occupied.

18) Be prepared for the negotiation

You’ll be dealing with a sales consultant on most reasonably sized developments. Before you begin any serious discussions with them, it’s worth writing down exactly what your minimum expectations are for the various things you’ll try to negotiate on. Things can move very quickly during discussions and it can be easy to lose track of exactly how much you’ve gained, so a simple checklist will help you recap.

As well as noting down your expectations, ensure you’re aware of some key points prior to entering into any negotiation.

Things to find out:

  • How many phases are there to the development?
  • Is there scope for any additional phases in future years?
  • What stage is the development at overall?
  • How many other developers are building homes there?
  • How many houses are on the builder’s site and roughly how many have been sold?
  • If you’re interested in particular plots, how long have these been up for sale?
  • Are there other similar developments in the area?
  • What do similar properties in the area sell for, new and old?

19) Buy with your head, not your heart

As with any negotiation, you’re in the strongest position if you don’t get emotionally involved and are prepared to walk away. This also means that you’re best placed to make some ambitious offers.

20) Play the waiting game

Negotiations can take a while – be patient, as holding out to get that extra few thousand pounds in value is certainly worth it. The figures may seem relatively trivial compared to the hundreds of thousands you’re spending on the property itself, but think about how much time and effort it would take you to earn that amount of money in your job, or consider that the saving could pay for many things, such as furniture.

If you’ve left a final offer with the sales consultant you might not ever hear from them again, but equally many prospective buyers do receive a call, days weeks or even months afterwards, and then you might just be able to grab yourself a bargain.

21) Know how to deal with the sales consultant

There are a number of tips on how best to deal with the sale representative, who you’ll be liaising with if buying on most medium to large scale developments:

  • Firstly, remember that it pays to be nice. They’re human too, and building up a good rapport with them will undoubtedly work in your favour.
  • It certainly doesn’t hurt for the sales consultant to be aware that you’re shopping around. Name drop a few other developments, or even carry a few competitors’ brochures with you when you view.
  • Even if you think that you’ll probably want to buy, never give that impression to the sale rep.
  • Try to pick quieter times to visit – if it’s the middle of the day on a busy weekend, the sales rep might afford you less time, and be more eager to speak to other potential buyers.
  • Be (pleasantly) persistent with negotiations. A blend of assertiveness and charm is best.
  • Telling the negotiator how much you can afford is a softer method of telling them how much you’re prepared to pay. It also conveys the fact that you haven’t got lots of extra money at your disposal.
  • Accept that they’re not going to give in to things easily – after all, negotiation is their job and they’ve most probably got more experience at it than you.
  • They’re target driven, and so how willing they are to haggle could depend on how good their month has been.
  • Most sales reps will only have so much bandwidth / authority to negotiate. However, if they feel it’s appropriate they’ll usually have superiors, such as an area manager, sales director or someone at head office that they can confer with. Always allow them the leeway to do this.
  • Remember that developers don’t make huge profits – 20% is a common margin - and so scope for negotiations does have its limits, to a greater or lesser extent.
  • Finally, if you were buying an older property, making a cheeky offer to a private seller can sometimes cause offence. However, this isn’t the case with a builder, which means making an ambitious offer doesn’t feel as awkward. Business is business and, as the saying goes, ‘the worst they can say is no’.

22) Don’t pay a deposit too soon

In almost all circumstances, it’s best to conclude negotiations before you pay the reservation fee / deposit. It stands to reason that once a developer thinks they have a sale, they’ll be much less inclined to negotiate.

The only exception to this is if the reservation fee is low (for example, £500) and you’re prepared to lose that if subsequent negotiations aren’t to your satisfaction.

23) Ensure you get everything you were promised

Ensure that you get everything that’s agreed to in writing. Once you’ve signed on the line, check and re-check to ensure you get the deal you agreed - if possible, pay visits to your property during its construction. Once you move in, review the specification fully and tick everything off, to ensure you have all that you were promised.

Conclusion

There are a variety of benefits to buying a new build property, and one of these is that, on the whole, a developer is keener to sell than a private vendor, and this puts you in a relatively good position from the onset. Start by being clear in your own mind what the maximum is that you’re prepared to pay. Then, have a strategy for securing discounts or add-ons, and prioritise these.

With careful planning, confidence and a bit of luck, you could secure a great deal on a brand new home.

About us

Unni & Evans is an independently owned furniture e-tailer, supplying high quality items to customers throughout the UK. We offer lines that aren’t readily available in the high street, including distinctive walnut and reclaimed ranges, plus a wide selection of traditional and contemporary dining room chairs.




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